Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (12): 1799-1809.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201412006

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatio-temporal coupling relationships among urbanization,economic growth and water use change in China

Chao BAO1,2()   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101,China
    2.Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101,China
  • Received:2014-01-22 Revised:2014-06-24 Online:2014-12-25 Published:2014-12-25
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation of China, No.13&ZD027;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41101538


China's rapid urbanization is accompanied by a continuous growth of economy and water use, and also a severe urban water crisis. However, the quantitative relationships and the interaction mechanisms among urbanization, economic growth and water use change are still unclear. To measure the exact driving effects of urbanization on economic growth and water use change, a complete decomposition model was established, and was applied in China and its 31 provincial administrative regions from 1997 to 2011. Results show that: (1) China's urbanization contributed about 30% of economic growth every year. More than 60% of economic growth relied on the increase of production efficiency. Therefore, such idea that urbanization is the engine or major driving force of economic growth may be properly weakened. (2) China's urbanization increased 2352×108βm3 of water use by intensifying the economic aggregate. However, it decreased 4530×108βm3 of water use by optimizing the industrial structure and improving the water use efficiency. Therefore, urbanization did not lead to water use growth. The cause for China's water use growth was the increase of population and economy. (3) In those provinces which are located in the eastern and central China, have large population and economy, and step into a period of accelerating urbanization, urbanization generally made great contribution to economic and water use growth. At the same time, it also had great contribution to industrial restructuring and water use efficiency improvement, and then largely decreased water use. In total, water use was decreased by urbanization in most provinces, and the spatio-temporal differences among them were lessened. (4) Although urbanization helps to decrease water use for China or a large region, it may cause water crisis in urban built-up areas or urban agglomerations. Therefore, the transfer and compensation mechanisms of water resoureces should be constructed as soon as possible between urban and rural areas, or low and high density urban areas.